USDA Finalizes MCOOL Rule

January 8, 2009 06:00 PM
 

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Rule to be submitted to Federal Register today.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


USDA finalizes MCOOL rule. USDA Secretary Ed Schafer on Thursday signed the final rule for mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL), which will be submitted to the Federal Register today.

"This is not a food safety issue, this is not a competitive issue or a trade issue," Schafer said. "This is a marketing issue; this is the ability for U.S. producers to label our meats and let the consumer decide."

"All in all we struck a good balance with the rules and regulations on the COOL legislation," Schafer said. "Some people wanted it to be more, some people wanted it to be less, but it is a good balance. It's something that we are real proud of finally accomplishing it since 2002 when we've been working on it."

The rule requires country-of-origin labels on meat sold in U.S. grocery stores. Labeling became mandatory on Sept. 30 under an interim rule. USDA previously said it would allow a six-month transition for food makers and retailers to comply.

On Dec. 1, Canada took the first step in challenging the US regulation before the World Trade Organization (WTO). Canada said the labeling rule poses an unfair technical trade barrier that makes U.S. meatpackers less willing to buy Canadian cattle and only at lower prices. Mexico joined the trade challenge in mid-December.

Comments: Regarding the WTO challenge to MCOOL, some trade observers believe that Canada and Mexico will likely have enough information in the months ahead to successfully challenge the U.S. labeling program.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


 

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